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Stop hand

I'll get you, Penelope Pitstop!
~ The Hooded Claw, making a boast unfulfilled by cancellation.

Sylvester Sneekly, also known as the Hooded Claw, is the main antagonist of the Hanna-Barbera animated television show The Perils of Penelope Pitstop. The show was a spin-off of a prior cartoon Wacky Races featuring the show's characters Penelope Pitstop and the Anthill Mob, but with the Hooded Claw replacing Dick Dastardly and Muttley as the primary villain (ironically the two would've appeared as supporting characters in early plans).

Role

The Hooded Claw was the disguise used by heiress Penelope's lawyer and supposed guardian, Sylvester Sneakly, in a continuing effort to do away with Penelope, in order to make her family fortune his own. Sneakly would use his dual role (cartoon logic ignoring a limited disguise for his face and none for his distinctive voice) to set Penelope up for his latest trap, always in a different part of the world and based on the sights and history of the region, as well as the old-time damsel-in-distress stories the show was mocking on as well as homaging.

Aiding him in this were two dim hirelings, the identical twin Bully Brothers, not as dumb as some cartoon henchmen but not at all bright; it seems likely the Claw wanted someone he could easily cheat, should his schemes finally succeed, never really getting how this undercut his efforts. Another factor likely holding him back (but firmly in keeping with the genre they homaged) was how complicated and slow-acting his many, many death-traps were, to the point of fans wondering if he gained Penelope's fortune, he might only break even from the expenditures. Frequently, one trap led right into another, with little or no stop till the end of the episode, always beginning another cliffhanger.

The Anthill Mob acted as Penelope's protectors, as easily fooled and misled as Penelope herself, but at least smarter than the Bully Brothers, to the point where once, when their personalities were inverted, their schemes to do away with Penelope were actually quite competent. Modeled after the Seven Dwarves, the Mob's members each had a signature trait that alternately aided Penelope or got her and them in even deeper trouble, moments the Claw never hesitated to exploit. They were a determined, resourceful lot, and once they caught on to the Claw's inevitable involvement, they moved hard to save their pretty charge.

One quirk, perhaps deliberate even in-universe, was that, as supposedly kind and caring Sylvester Sneakly, the Claw called his charge Penelope, while in his disguise, he only referred to her as Pitstop. One joke by the Claw mentioned Dick Dastardly by name, though whether this was fourth-wall breaking or an indication that this show shared a world with Wacky Races and Dick Dastardly And His Flying Machines is unclear. Hanna-Barbera shows were known to do this sort of humor, with Yogi Bear appearing on The Flinstones and a classmate of Elroy Jetson's watching reruns of The Flintstones on a wristwatch-TV.

Sylvester Sneekly often gave hints to his true identity to Penelope, but she never picked it up. Once Sneekly changed into the Hooded Claw uniform right in front of her, but Penelope was unable to believe that the guardian she looked up to was actually the Hooded claw and believed it to be a trick.

Trivia

  • The Hooded Claw was voiced by the late Paul Lynde, also known for Mildew Wolf, as well as trickster characters like Uncle Arthur on Bewitched.
  • The Hooded Claw was mentioned in the song 'The Power Of Love' by Frankie Goes To Hollywood.
  • The Hooded Claw had a model in many serial feature villains, whose masked identity was not a mystery to the audience, and whose in-universe disguises were often comically flimsy, calling into question the intelligence of all involved.
  • He is similar to Peg Leg Pete, being that both are villains who use tricks that they have up their sleeves and have loyal minions (The Beagle Boys for Pete and The Bully Brothers for Hooded Claw). Hooded Claw has motives to kill Penelope due to her vast economic fortune. Pete kidnaps Minnie.
  • Ironically, his name is confusing since he neither wears a hood nor has any claws, which is part of the gag.
  • In DC Comics' Hanna Barbera Crossover series, Scooby-Doo Team-Up, Issue 41, the series was resolved and Sneakly was finally unmasked as the Claw by the Scoobies.

Gallery

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